In building her firm’s Facebook page, REALTOR® A decided to include a link to a realtor.com page with all the listings in her city. Competing broker REALTOR® B in the same community happened upon the Facebook page and discovered the link to realtor.com, which included REALTOR® B’s listings.
REALTOR® B immediately filed an ethics complaint with the local association of REALTORS® alleging REALTOR® A had violated Article 12, Standard of Practice 12-4, which does not allow REALTORS® to advertise property without authority. Following review by the association’s grievance committee, the complaint was scheduled for a hearing before a hearing panel.
At the hearing, REALTOR® B argued that REALTOR® A was advertising without authority all the listings in the local MLS on her firm’s Facebook page by providing a link to the listings on realtor.com. REALTOR® A countered, saying that links are merely a method of “pointing” or “referring” to another site; that the information had not been altered nor had any information been deleted; and that people who view links to websites understand that.
After hearing all relevant testimony, the hearing panel went into executive session and concluded that by linking to a website which contained other REALTORS®’ listings, REALTOR® A had not engaged in unauthorized advertising and had not violated Article 12.